Two new official flag days in the Kingdom of Denmark led to embarrassing flag fails. The purpose of flying the Greenlandic and Faroese flags was to strengthen the bond between the three countries within the Danish Realm. The level of knowledge of Greenland and the Faroe Islands in Denmark certainly needs to be raised.
In 2016 Denmark introduced new official flag days. On June 21, the national day of Greenland, the Greenlandic flag is to be hoisted on all government buildings in the Kingdom and on Danish embassies abroad. On July 29, the Faroese feast day of Saint Olav, Ólavsøka, the flag of the Faroe Islands is to be hoisted in a similar fashion.
Albeit celebrated as an opportunity to strengthen the Faroese and Greenlandic identity vis-à-vis the Danish majority population of the Kingdom of Denmark, the new flag days, however, revealed an embarrassing lack of knowledge of the flags of the two North Atlantic nations.
On June 21 Danish government officials proudly tweeted out images of the Greenlandic flag, Erfalasorput, hoisted for the first time in front of Danish embassies around the world. But in several instances the flag had been raised upside down!
The picture on the left shows the flag of Greenland at the Danish embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The same happened at the Danish embassy in Paris, France and at the Danish representations in Geneva, Switzerland (UN) and in Ramallah on the West Bank. Later that day, when the flag fails had been pointed out, many of the tweets were deleted.
It isn’t possible to hoist a Nordic cross flag upside down. So, on July 29, that mistake would be out the question in regards to Merkið, the flag of the Faroe Islands. But somehow a much graver mistake occurred: Many of the Faroese flags, newly ordered by Danish authorities, had been produced with a mix-up of the colours of the Faroese cross.
The picture on the right shows wrong Faroese flags on the old stock exchange in Copenhagen. Flags from the flag company who had produced these wrong flags also reached the University of Copenhagen and the Bornholm Airport, for example, and erroneous flags were hoisted without anyone noticing the mistake.
Most embarrassing was perhaps the Faroese flags with mixed-up colours in the garden of Sorenskrivarin, the court house in the Faroese capital of Tórshavn. The court system in Greenland and the Faroe Islands is still part of the common Kingdom of Denmark authorities and thus would normally fly the Danish state flag which is a swallow-tailed version of the Dannebrog.
“The mistake shows an enormous lack of knowledge of the Faroe Islands in Denmark. Some Faroe Islanders will see this as a sign of lack of respect,” Sjúrður Skaale told the press. He is a Faroese member of the Danish parliament, Folketinget, representing the Faroese Social Democratic Party, Javnaðarflokkurin. When he was first presented with images of the wrong flags Mr. Skaale couldn’t believe his own eyes: “It has to be Photoshop, I said to myself. This can’t be true. It must be a joke.”